More and more frequently, if you tell somebody that perhaps your keenest intellectual interest is food (its nutritional qualities, how it’s produced and consumed, etc.), they will see that as perfectly respectable, and this is heartening. Still, when I tell people one of my ultimate goals is to become a farmer, and when I betray just how much of my day is spent musing about a potentially right relation to food, people still often seem to take me for some kind of kook. It seems to me they think it odd, or even somehow wasteful, that a seemingly intelligent young person would not set his thinking upon more significant things, and has even set the drudgery of farm work as a long term goal.
In a similar vein, when I tell people one of my main interests is metaphysics – the thoughtful reflection about what beings in general are, the questions ‘what is existence?’ ‘what am I?’ and ‘why is there something and not nothing?’ – people seem puzzled about why I’d waste my time with such speculation. I mean, why not spend my time thinking about something more current and constructive?
For now, I will not speak to the reasons for their bewilderment at my interests in these two spheres. That is a job I will leave to you, the Reader. Instead, I will only briefly introduce my rationale for these interests:
The greatest Revolution ever, in the history of the Homo sapiens, was the Homo sapiens entrance into history. And this entrance was a direct result of a change in humankind’s relation to food: the domestication of plant and animal species.
The domestication of a handful of plants and animals for food and food production brought man out of a world dominated by mythic revolution and into a world of linear history, in which historical revolution, while still spiraling, became a spiraling away.
This was the Revolution of revolutions. But once taken up in the ever-widening gyre of history, it is not simply man’s relation to food, or his fellow man, or physical implements, or anything specific that has brought about the great revolutions within history, but humankind’s interpretation of Being as such. It is historical humanity’s metaphysics that’s the hidden mainspring within history.
If you’re doubtful about whether this is truly the case, or simply murky about it, as I was for several years, read my ‘Brief Introduction To Our Historical Moment,’ in my “Sketch of a New Metaphysics” below, as a start. Better yet, study the history of thought in Heidegger, who’s western thought’s best historian, so far as I know.
In sum, I’m concerned specifically with these two spheres because “the greater a revolution is to be, the more profoundly it must plunge into it’s history.” I often think about these words of Heidegger when I see, in the people I speak with and read about, how position and vision determines one’s sense of revolution, one’s meridians, poles, and periphery. And my sense of our inherited position and trajectory dictates that I look to the farthest poles, and attempt to fathom the greatest revolutions.